U.S. Senate hopefuls Richard Mourdock (R) and Joe Donnelly (D) in Indiana.
At first blush, news about the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee reserving air time in a competitive race may seem routine, but the news out of Indiana yesterday reinforced a larger truth.
The DSCC's independent expenditure is re-upping its buy in Indiana, with another $439,000 in air time booked from Oct. 2 through Oct. 8, two media tracking sources tell me.
The NRSC's independent arm followed by reserving fresh time of its own for the same week. It's a mark of how competitive the race in Indiana is now seen, and in which both sides in the fight between Democrat Joe Donnelly and Republican Richard Mourdock.
Two weeks ago, Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS invested another $1 million in support of Richard Mourdock, which coincided with news that the National Republican Senatorial Campaign was making another ad buy of its own. Now it's Democrats reserving time in the Hoosier state, and three Democratic super PACs are launching a $1 million ad campaign of their own.
Again, on the surface, this hardly seems noteworthy -- a competitive Senate race is drawing major investments from both sides. But what's important is what's often left unsaid: we're talking about Sen. Dick Lugar's (R) seat, which a year ago, looked like one of the least competitive races of 2012.
Lugar, a long-time incumbent, would have cruised to an easy re-election victory, and his party and its allies could have used their resources in other contests. But the Republican Party's right-wing base decided Lugar was insufficiently extreme, and GOP voters backed Mourdock over Lugar in a primary.
In other words, the Republican base has proven to be a Democratic ally -- Dems have a legitimate chance at flipping this seat from "red" to "blue," precisely because GOP voters nominated an extremist challenger over a safe incumbent. And even if Mourdock prevails, it's forced Republicans to invest heavily in a state they wouldn't have had to worry about were it not for the primary.
Republicans need a net gain of four seats to win a Senate majority this election season. Thanks in part to the choices of the GOP base in Indiana and Missouri, Democrats seem increasingly optimistic. It happened in 2010 -- in Nevada, Delaware, and Colorado -- and it's now it's happening again.